If any of my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are feeling a little blue about the waning of summer, here is a panoply of blue wildlife to uplift your spirits.
Though there are many birds with blue, there are also insects and reptiles, and even a monkey.
Western fence lizards have a bright blue belly.
This skink we see in California has a dazzling tail.
The blue monkey. Not as blue as some of its fellow blue-named creatures, but a beauty nonetheless.
Birds this blue sometimes blend into the greenery; but I have spotted them from far across an opposite ridge…gasping from behind my binoculars, such stunning beauty.
We found these blue-headed parrots at a river bank in the Amazon. They were busy extracting minerals from the clay soil.
The color blue is a bit complicated when it comes to nature. Peacock feathers, for example, are actually pigmented brown, but their microscopic structure, through light reflection, expresses blues and greens.
Birdnote.org explains it well:
“Unlike many other bird colors, blue is not a pigment but a color produced by the structure of the feathers. Tiny air pockets and melanin pigment crystals in each feather scatter blue light and absorb the other wavelengths. The even finer structure of the feather gathers the bouncing blue wavelengths together and directs them outward.”
I think the blue feathers on this Glossy Starling take scattering and bouncing blue wavelengths to a new high.
I’ve noticed some birds sporting blue always seem to be bright, like these two tanager species…
… whereas other blue-pigmented birds can sometimes look gray or black, depending on the light.
These blue-footed boobies are performing a mating dance. The blue pigmentation in their feet comes from carotenoids in their fresh fish diet. The bluer the feet, the more healthy the bird.
A few more of my blue favorites.
How wonderful to have all these blues in the world–so much pigmentation or light or wavelengths or whatever…to celebrate.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted.